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Press Release: Motion Filed in Support of EPA’s Air Pollution Controls at New Mexico Coal Plant

For Immediate Release: October 18, 2011


Mariel Nanasi, New Energy Economy, 505-469-4060

Erik Schlenker-Goodrich, WELC, 575-613-4197

Suma Peesapati, Earthjustice, 510-550-6785

Stephanie Kodish, National Parks Conservation Association, 865-329-2424

Motion Filed in Support of EPA’s Air Pollution Controls at New Mexico Coal Plant

Opposition grows to high pollution levels from PNM’s San Juan Generating Station

Santa Fe &mdash A coalition of environmental groups today filed a motion in federal court to intervene in PNM’s appeal of an EPA rule requiring the installation of strong pollution controls at PNM’s San Juan Generating Station. The required technology, selective catalytic reduction, is a proven, cost-effective technology designed to reduce emissions of nitrogen oxide by 90 percent, that is already in use at more than 208 coal plants nationwide. The motion filed today emphasized the highly negative impacts that pollution from the San Juan plant has on public health, climate change and the local economy.

PNM has appealed the EPA rule requiring stronger pollution controls at the San Juan coal plant. PNM’s credibility on this issue has been undermined as the company has quoted several conflicting cost projections for the proposed technology upgrade. Commissioned in 1973, PNM’s San Juan coal-fired power plant is one of America’s largest single sources of harmful air pollutants such as nitrogen oxides (NOx) and sulfur dioxide (SO2). Each year, this inefficient, antiquated facility emits more than 8.5 million tons of carbon pollution and consumes more than 9.3 billion gallons of clean water.

“Hundreds of coal plants all over the country are using these controls to dramatically cut the pollution that’s so harmful to public health — it’s become an industry standard,” said Mariel Nanasi, Executive Director of New Energy Economy. “Our health and our air are no less important than anywhere else, and PNM shouldn’t be holding New Mexico back.”

Through its appeal, PNM now seeks to use less efficient and less cost effective pollution controls than those mandated by EPA. If allowed to bypass clean air laws, the plant would continue clouding the skies and harming public health.

“Defending EPA’s ability to implement clean air rules will set the stage for nationwide action to reduce dangerous air pollution from antiquated, inefficient coal plants,” said Erik Schlenker-Goodrich, Climate and Energy Program Director at Western Environmental Law Center. “Where it is more economical to invest in clean energy than these coal plants, we will therefore accelerate our transition to life-affirming clean energy.”

“All the people of New Mexico deserve clean air and a healthy environment,” said Earthjustice attorney Suma Peesapati, “It’s high time to update the old, highly polluting coal burning power plant at issue here. “The EPA rule we are supporting is based on years of sound scientific and economic data.”

Western Environmental Law Center and Earthjustice filed today’s motion on behalf of New Energy Economy, San Juan Citizens Alliance, National Park Conservation Association, Diné Citizens Against Ruining our Environment and the Sierra Club.

“The people and parks of New Mexico deserve better than the dirty pollution the San Juan Generating Station keeps blowing in the air,” said NPCA Clean Air Counsel Stephanie Kodish. “In addition to widely-known health risks associated with the poisons emitted by this site, these pollutants damage New Mexico and the surrounding states’ proudest heritage, their iconic national parks, natural lands and historic sites. Visitors to places like Mesa Verde and Grand Canyon national parks are subjected to unhealthy air and hazy views, which greatly decreases the likelihood that they will make return visits — killing jobs and hurting local businesses.”


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